Home

ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES-04

0704-Intra-Uterine Development

Background reading material by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. for Year 2 Semester 2 PPSD Session on Wednesday 11th April 2007

1.0 ORIGINS

Adam was created de novo and not from any previous life. The rest of humans start life when maternal and paternal DNAs are combined in the process of fertilization. The rest of the human body is then built from basic elements of the earth: water and soil. Human biological life manifests cyclicity. The human physical body is derived from the earth. On death of cells or the whole organism, elements found in one body return to the earth. Humans have one origin from Adam and from the earth. Various human races are one species that can interbreed. Humans however have different colors and structures. The biological differences among humans were created in a deliberate fashion by God and did not arise by chance.

 

2.0 CONCEPTION

The male gamete is the sperm and the female gamete is the ovum. About 50-100 sperms reach the ovum but only one penetrates it. The statistical probability of a particular genetic individual is low because only one sperm out of so many fertilizes the ovum. Chromosomal rearrangements are millions of possible combinations and permutations. An individual human is a unique creation of God selected out of trillions of possibilities.

 

The start of a new human life legally recognized is at conception. However from a purely biological point of view there was life in the gametes even before conception.

 

Sex determination involving the X and Y chromosomes is not a random process but a deliberate design by Allah to make some offspring male or female.

 

The fetus and child can acquire biological features not inherited from either parent due to environmental effect on the genotype. Behavioral characteristics can be transmitted from the parent as learning and culture but not as genetic inheritance.

 

3.0 EMBRYOLOGICAL CORRELATIONS

Intra-uterine growth and development have been described by the Qur’an and hadith as occurring in stages. God had the power to make an adult de novo as He did with Adam. The likely reason for staged growth is to allow gradual interaction and adaptation to the external environment. The Qur’an has described 4 consecutive stages of embryological growth and development:  ‘alaqat, mudhghat, ‘idhaam, and nash'at,. It is at the stage of nash'at that the spirit is inspired. The Qur’an has also described historical incidences of ensoulment of Adam and Isa (Jesus). Several studies have been published of the correlation between descriptions of intra-uterine growth by the Qur'an and embryological sciences. Care must be exercised not to carry the correlation too far because the Qur’an is divine and its facts are stable whereas scientific facts change from time to time.

 

4.0 EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL ENVIRONMENTS

The placenta mediates between maternal and fetal circulations. It enables exchange between the fetus and the external environment so that the fetus to satisfy its respiratory, circulatory, and excretory needs without laboring its growing organs. The organs still play a role because they need testing and preparation for later independent existence. The blood-placental barrier protects the fetus from environmental toxins by being very selective in what molecules are allowed to transit. It also protects the mother from some fetal products that could give rise to immune reactions. The amniotic membranes provide some mechanical protection. The amniotic fluid absorbs mechanical forces and thus cushions the fetus from harm. The fluid in the amniotic cavity plays a role in regulation of temperature. The growing fetus can respond to environmental stimuli. Scientific research in this area will yield more information in the future. The fetus is calmed and is reassured by hearing and feeling the maternal heartbeat. The fetus exercises all its muscles constantly. This is necessary for their growth.

 

5.0 DISORDERS OF INTRA-UTERINE GROWTH

The common disorders of intrauterine growth are growth retardation, immaturity of organ systems, malformations, fetal disease, and fetal death.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. April 2007